Jesus says in Mt. 11:28, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…” He said to His apostles in Mark 6:31, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” God said in Isaiah 28:12, “‘This is the resting place, let the weary rest’; and, ‘This is the place of repose’ –but they would not listen.” Let us listen. Is Jer. 35:17 true of us where God says, “I spoke to them, but they did not listen; I called to them, but they did not answer.”? We have a Rest, but many of us are afraid to go in because of lack of trust in He-whom-we-must-trust. Heb. chapters 3 & 4 discuss this. Heb. 4:1 says, “Therefore, since the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.” Verse 3 says, “Now we who have believed enter that rest…” but verse 6 speaks of those who “did not go in, because of their disobedience.” (In other words, true belief is, of course, active! –that is, –obedient!) “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” (v. 11) (The example is that of the Israelites’ unbelief about going into the Promised Land. They instead had to wander 40 more years and die there, until their children were then allowed to go in.)
What, exactly, is “The Rest”? It is Jesus Himself. Joshua did indeed take the Israelites into the promised land. Yet look at what Heb. 4:8-10 says: “For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His.” It is not talking about one day of the week. There are many verses to support this, but I will just quote one: Col.2:16,17 –“Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”
Okay, so what is the work, exactly? Well, let’s go back to Isaiah 28:13. I’ve already quoted verse 12 and we see it speaks of rest. Verse 13 says, “So then, the word of the LORD to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there– so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured.” How so? Striving. Striving to DO the right thing, the things we think God requires of us, yet misinterpreting Him. Thus we “stumble when rendering decisions.” (v. 7) I believe there are many in this captivity.
I very rarely watch movies anymore (maybe 3-4 a year), but I did see the Narnia movie “Prince Caspian”. I considered it quite violent, though good in other ways. (The four children who also starred in “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” were, in my opinion, adorable.) Anyway, there was some theology I meditated on after seeing the movie. I noticed how Peter, similar to what many of us try to often do, attempted to rush the hero/salvation job. He thought Aslan was taking too long to come and deliver them so he got impatient and tried to lead a “deliverance” by their own might. He and Caspian even considered getting help from the dark side! (We all know about that word called “temptation.”)
But Lucy… oh yes, dearest Lucy… She portrayed those who love the Lord with ALL one’s heart and trust and patience… She acted, but it was in obedience to Aslan’s ways and whispers, not in presumption when He hadn’t spoken. At those times, she waited. And waited. And waited. She was so cute, too, when near the end, she pulled out her little knife –with all the army rushing at her– and just when the enemy was about to mock her in utter disdain, they saw Someone behind her –Aslan, the Lion, the Great King… I cried. Just to see her childlike humility mixed with courage and trust… –It was amazing. Don’t we all wish we were more like that… more often…?
So all that said about the movie, to say this: It’s about rest. Even when pulling out our sword (which is the Word of God –Eph. 6:17) or our battle-prayers or our songs or our worship or evangelism or preaching or serving, etc., we just do it shielded in His hands, bathed in His Rest. Then it all works –according to His will– and it feels restful. Even a battle can be restful when HE is the one actually doing it through us. Look at what God says in Isaiah 30:15-21 –“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it… Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who WAIT for Him! …O people…you will weep no more. How gracious He will be when you cry for help! As soon as He hears, He will answer you… Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'”
Can we hear Him? When Lucy was asked by the others why they couldn’t see or hear Him, she said gently, “Maybe you weren’t really trying.” What a grievous statement, because it is so true of so many who say they love God. No, they don’t love Him. One who loves, loves to hear their loved one’s voice; and he/she will make every effort to hear that voice –and respond.
No, way too many who say they love and seek God are actually seeking and loving everything but Him. They love the world, they love their pleasures, they continuously indulge their appetites, gorging themselves on things that are pleasing to their eyes, tastes, and other senses. They seek fame and recognition from the world and truly care little about God’s opinion of them. So, they will go backward, they will fall. And aside from God’s merciful intervention, they will never find God, or Truth, or Life. For as God says in Jer. 29:13, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with ALL your heart.” Only then. However, for those who do seek Him wholeheartedly, He adds in v. 14, “I WILL be found by you,” declares the LORD, “AND will bring you back from captivity.”
…Wow… I love His promises. Found by Him! No longer captive! Yes, seeking Him in trust does bring deliverance. As Ps. 25:15 informs us, “My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only He will release my feet from the snare.” So, “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” (Ps. 27:14)
Read this restful promise: “The LORD was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.” (Ps. 18:19) Let us, therefore, delight Him by our childlike trust, for therein is the road to righteousness… and its benefits. “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of REST.” (Isaiah 32:17,18)
So let us keep our eyes and ears and spirits attuned to Him. For He is the treasure spoken of in Mt.13:44 who we should desire so fervently that we are willing to give up everything else in order to find Him. For He is worth it… He who is our Love and Rest.